Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering - (M.S.)

Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Fadi A. Karaa

Second Advisor

Laramie V. Potts

Third Advisor

John B. Miima

Abstract

In the last decade the continuous change in the climate has resulted in an increased frequency of natural catastrophic events and the magnitude of their impact. The immense damage caused by such events brought to light the vulnerabilities of the impacted communities. Coastal communities are alarmingly vulnerable due to flood and storm surge impacts such as those caused by super storm Sandy in 2012. In order to mitigate this risk, the communities need to look beyond the short term recovery measures, and build a sustainable community by implementing long term mitigation measures. The objective of this thesis is to investigate and outline a flood-risk mitigation process that recommends such long term measures.

This study looks into the impact of some of the most recent catastrophic flood and hurricane events in the US with a focus on the damage caused by super storm Sandy particularly in Moonachie and Little Ferry Borough in the New Jersey Meadowlands area. Both boroughs were shut down for several days after Sandy due to the failure of their critical infrastructure systems. As part of this research (1) a Geodatabase is developed as the baseline model to investigate the vulnerability of the existing infrastructure to flooding; (2) fault-tree analysis helped understand the causes of flooding and the vulnerabilities of the study region towards those causes; and (3) Hazus-MH, a non-proprietary software by FEMA, is used along with simulated Sandy inundation data to assess the damage caused by Sandy on these areas. Data from various sources like DSAT, FEMA, Census data, etc. is used to assess this regional scale damage. This assessment can be refined further by using high resolution data. Finally, the study describes a financial model for performing benefit-cost analysis on the available flood mitigation measures which can help the decision makers when multiple mitigation measures are available for a region. The NJDEP funded Flood Mitigation Project is used to study the flood mitigation measures available in these two areas. The overall process and the benefit-cost analysis model as described in this study can guide the local and government agencies' efforts in analyzing the communities' vulnerabilities and come up with mitigating strategies for resilience design and sustainable development.

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